Let's be honest, we all want a nice, perky, and strong backside. But achieving that is not as easy as it seems.
Sure, you can do a bunch of squats and lunges and hope for the best, but if you want to see real results, you need to incorporate glute activation exercises at the start of your routine to benefit the most when we move on to our compound exercises.
In this article, we'll discuss what glute activation is, why it's important, and the best exercises to get those glutes firing. Let's get to it!
Glute activation refers to performing exercises that warm up and prepare the glutes for intense exercises. These exercises are designed to ‘Wake-up’ the glutes and get them fired in preparation for our glute-building exercises.
The glutes are made up of three muscles: the gluteus maximus, medius and minimus . When these muscles are weak or inhibited, it can lead to several issues such as lower back pain, poor posture and even hip pain. Glute activation exercises are designed to be performed before heavy lifting so that the glutes are ready to handle the loads placed on them.
Many people don't understand the importance of glute activation exercises, which is why they often neglect them. But incorporating these exercises into your workout routine can help you improve your performance during other exercises and even prevent injuries.
Examples of glute activation exercises include bridges, clamshells, lateral band walks, donkey kicks. These exercises can be incorporated into a warm-up routine or as part of a larger workout program to help improve glute strength and activation. We'll discuss each of these exercises in more detail later.
Due to a sedentary lifestyle or sitting for prolonged periods, many people have weak glutes that are unable to effectively fire during activities that require more glute strength and muscle recruitment. This can lead to other muscle groups taking over and compensating, which can cause pain and injury .
Additionally, weak glutes can also lead to poor posture, which can worsen back pain or lead to other issues. Therefore, to avoid these issues and prevent injuries, we need to activate the glutes and get them firing before exercises such as squats, hip thrusts, deadlifts, etc.
When the glutes are activated and firing correctly, we can then move on to more challenging exercises with more confidence, knowing that our lower body is ready to perform the work needed.
Furthermore, the glutes are the biggest and most powerful muscles in the body, so they play an important role when it comes to sports performance. For this reason, athletes must ensure that their glutes are properly activated and strengthened to improve performance.
Activating your glutes is not as simple as performing a few squats or lunges. To effectively activate the glutes, we need to incorporate exercises that activate all three of the glutes – the glute maximus, medius and minimus.
Each of these muscles has its own unique role to play in helping you to move efficiently and effectively.
To activate the glutes, we need to replicate these three roles. This means performing exercises that involve hip extension, abduction, and external rotation.
We recommend performing a 5-10 minute glute activation routine before every lower body workout. That way we can be sure that the glutes are prepped and that we avoid any unwanted injuries.
Below, we’ll discuss some of the most effective glute activation exercises that you can incorporate into your routine.
Fun tip: When you're doing these exercises, think about your glutes! That might sound silly, but by focusing your mind on the muscle you're trying to activate, you can improve your mind-muscle connection and get better results.
Many of the best glute activation exercises require the use of a resistance band , so we recommend having one on hand before you get started.
As the maximas is the biggest muscle in the glutes, it makes sense to spend the most time activating this muscle. The first 5 exercises focus on the gluteus maximas, with the next 4 exercises targeting the gluteus medius and minimus.
This exercise targets the glute maximus and helps to activate the muscle before you do any other exercises. The bands help add resistance to the exercise, allowing you to really feel the mind-muscle connection.
This is another glute activation exercise that targets the glute maximus.
This is also an effective glute activation exercise focusing on the glute maximus.
This glute activation exercise is similar to the donkey kick. However, you perform it in a lying position. Again, this activation is focusing on glute maximas activation.
Not an exercise you may have come across, but the reverse hyperextension is a great exercise to activate the glutes. It’s also a great exercise you can incorporate into your routine as one of your working sets.
Here we have the first activation that focuses primarily on the gluteus medius. The primary role of the medius is glute abduction – which is the very movement of this activation exercise.
Focusing on the medius and minums, the banded sidewalk is a great exercise to activate the upper glutes.
Similar to the seated abduction, but with a slight twist.
Focusing on activating the glute medius and minimus, the fire hydrant is an effective exercise to prime the glutes ready for heavy workouts.
Incorporating glute activation exercises into your workout routine can help you achieve better results, reduce the risk of injuries, and improve your overall health and fitness.
The reason we perform our favourite glute-based exercises is that we want to grow and strengthen the glutes. Failure to activate the glutes before our heavy lifting could see other surrounding muscles such as the quads and hamstrings compensating and taking the load away from the glutes.
A complete activation routine can minimalise this and ensure the glutes are ready to handle the load from the heavy exercises. If the glutes can take the brunt of the load then we’re going to experience more growth in this region.